Friday, April 27, 2012

Raising Greater Heights of Progress for the 40th Carabao-Carroza Festival in Pavia

In the Philippines, water buffalos locally known as carabaos have been domesticated for thousands of years. They are known to be as “farmers’ best friend” or as “living tractors” because they have become economically important, thus, making them an integral part in almost all traditional villages farming structure.

photo by Leo Solinap

To pay tribute to this farm animal that has become a national symbol of the Philippines, carabao races and parades have been celebrated annually in many agricultural communities. The style of racing, the distances and the type of events vary significantly by the area in which the race is occurring, and many towns all over the country offer different types of carabao races.

In Iloilo, the family-friendly community of Pavia, an agricultural town 9.6 kilometers north from Iloilo City and known for its “baye-baye” and “suman” celebrates a festival of the carabaos through the annual Carabao-Carroza, the longest existing festival in Iloilo Province.

photo by Leo Solinap

Local and foreign tourists flock to the municipality of Pavia to witness this annual carabaos race that started forty years ago. It has become a tradition since then as farmers race their strongest and fastest carabaos. The race is of two major types: flat racing and carroza-racing. The flat race is where carabaos driven by farmer run across the 100-meter long parallel grassy track; while the carroza race is driven by farmers with carrozas drawn by the carabaos. The race is based on speed and stamina of the carabaos.

Prior to the race, the festival also features a colorful parade of 18 decorated bamboo carrozas representing the 18 barangays of Pavia. Along with their 18 muses, the carrozas also bear the local produce of these barangays.

The grand opening parade will take off at Ungka-I on May 3, 2012. The parade will proceed to the open field of Pavia High School for a short program to be followed by the race. At 7 p.m., the Grand Coronation of the Carabao-Carroza Festival Queen will take place at the municipal plaza of the same day.

Many festivals in Iloilo come from a culture that was born out of prosperity and abundance. Many towns are rich in natural resources suitable for all types of livelihood, from fishing to hunting and especially farming. These towns celebrate their traditional festivals, mostly livelihood-based and are worth the trip, in case one gets the chance to experience them.

The annual celebration of the Carabao-Carroza Festival boasts Pavia’s rich cultural meaning and long history as it compose an important part of the Ilonggo culture. It also helps a great deal in preserving this indigenous celebration in Iloilo that despite the advent of modern machineries that are rapidly replacing our carabaos for agriculture making most of the farm work mechanized, the Carabao-Carroza festival continuous to rise for greater heights of progress for Pavia.

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